Meeting Myself Again for the First Time

by Laurie Ritchie

Years ago, I was sent by my mentor to a therapist who’d test my personality type with the MBTI, the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Inventory.  She’d appeared gung ho to send me to this woman, feeling that it’d reveal vital secrets about myself and open up a wealth of understanding.  Honestly, I rolled my eyes inwardly at the thought of this; I’d taken personality type quizzes all my life.  Being the navel gazer that I knew myself to be; no magazine questionaire or online personality quiz went unmarked, I knew myself pretty darn well! 

Pat Wyman, a noted psychotherapist and author of the book, Three Keys to  Self-Understanding: MBTI, Enneagram, and Inner Child,  said she’d type-casted me as an INFP even before I filled in the numerous small circles.  Uncanny, given that my understanding of myself, outward personality and dress fit more closely to my Enneagram type 3- A Performer.  The INFP is a dreamer, highly sensitive and spiritual, whose life is about finding meaning and purpose.  She’s very creative, sees the full potential in others, and is more concerned with the whole context rather than its details.  An Enneagram 3 personality is motivated by achievement and approval, needing a sense of productiveness, who dresses for success as “image is everything”, are enthusiastic, busy, charming, and appear self confident.  Yes, I could readily acknowledge myself in that latter description, and somewhat more shadowy, I could also recognize that figure in the INFP – but that person wasn’t as highly valued.  Like the ugly duckling in the common nursery story, I felt unvalued in those feathers while those around me were Type A achievers.  The young child that sat underneath the willow tree reading her books in the afternoon shade of a summer day was not productive.  I was reduced to tears to hear from Pat that my personality type would have been the “shamans” of ancient tribes were I to have lived in that age.  “Spiritually gifted and highly sensitive”, she underlined.  “Not religious.”  Always knowing a deep internal spiritual sense to myself yet grating in disharmony with religion over the years, I cried in the unexpected reunion and instant knowing I felt in meeting myself for the first time in 45 years.  Pat holds strongly to a theory that our MBTI is our core self, the one we’re born with, yet all of us – no matter our upbringing – creates an outer shell of defenses to deal with the messages we endure growing up that creates our Enneagram.  Growing up in an immediate and extended family (as well as a Western cultural ideal) that exuded a certain level of achievement, and expectation of the same for its offspring, I became the dutiful daughter chasing after affirmation and success.  Yet finding little without a sense of meaning and purpose, feeling that much more out of my pond when immersed in a society that was so achievement driven.  Leaving her office that day, still overwhelmed and sniffling, she thrust business cards in my hand of local Reike specialists, massage therapists, and what I’d instantly termed some “lezbo, Birkenstock wearing” Woman’s group newsletter.  I looked at her questioningly, saying “Why would I go to see any of these people?”  I’m certainly not some woowoo type who would go for any of that sort of thing!  Her recommendations to me still haunt me.  “You need to find your home.  Your pond.  Surround yourself with like people.  You’ve felt so uncomfortable about who you are because there’s so few of you.  A small percentage.  Find them in alternative sources.  And there, you will find yourself.”

Pfffft, yea right!  I’m not going to do that.  Sure, I’ve always been drawn to alternative spiritual practices and beliefs; the occult, crystals, the hippie culture, reincarnation, ESP and other psychic abilities…but those people were downright weird.  I’m certainly not going to associate with those kinds of people!  They weren’t even really accepted by normal society.  Frowned upon by the medical community in which I lived in, having both a degree in Occupational Therapy and an MD husband.  I envisioned my friends who, though irreverent or bold in one way or another, had outwardly acceptable images.  Respectable jobs.  Attractive appearances.  There’s no way I’d switch up that association.

I chuckle to myself.  Fast forward my picture down the road 5 years in the future.  And here I stand, not among the strangelings that I’d envisioned with nose piercings, tattoos, dreadlocks, living on the outskirts of society, but among women that speak in poetry and dreams, walk in joy, with amazing insight, wisdom and creativity.   And I’m the one sporting a beautiful diamond at the side of my nose, though I can’t readily recall any others that do.  Nor tatoos or dreadlocks.   They’ve brought me along a pathway I’d never envisioned, bringing me to such a deep sense of acceptance and wonder and curiosity so that I’ve never in my life been this inspired.  Like immersing myself underwater to scuba dive – another activity I greatly resisted – I still feel that occasional moment of panic, looking around saying, “What the HELL are you DOING here?!”  And then I recognize that familiar feeling of peace, of meeting myself once again, and feel this deep internal sigh of relief that says………ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that’s why.  You’re home.

Now that I recognize myself, embracing that inner self closely, I find that I’m leaning on the characteristics I’ve always kept hidden and more accepting of personality traits I usually battle.  I love my alone time, to think, daydream, analyze, fighting those inner voices to be more sociable.  Though as a youngster, it was a valued trait to be outgoing and popular, I can accept my more quiet side, enjoying the freedom in not having to be *on* all the time.  I find myself involved in women’s spirituality and writing groups,  participated in drummings, have opened my eyes to honoring the Goddess, Mother Earth and the Divine Feminine, and am actively seeking out non-traditional churches that speak more truly to my heart.  As I await the arrival of new friend from one of those groups, I acknowledge with a knowing soft smile my intuitiveness of seeing a like soul and finding immediate connection.  Allowing her inside my heart like a long lost friend to walk today in the park, despite only having met her twice before.

I still struggle with that Performer side of me, but when I can acknowledge my core attributes within the fog, I grab hold with a vengeance.   Perhaps, in being human, that Performer will always be a part of me.  Certainly, she’s no one to sneeze at.  I’ve lived in her shoes for most of my life, shining them to a perfection that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.  There are days that those skills come in handy.  Day by day, arm in arm with both my selves, I’m getting closer to what the Divine intended….and oh, what a joyous adventure!